Tuesday, July 30, 2013

THE LOTUS

Shortly before I invited guests to dinner two weeks ago, we received another original glass piece from Karen Bourque to hang in the dining room window, a beautiful picture of the lotus flower composed of pink pearly shells, amber, and green glass. Karen, who lives in Churchpoint, Louisiana, has created glass pieces for numerous homes throughout Acadiana and large, commissioned pieces for the Louisiana Book Festival and the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Karen explains that in this latest picture she tried to capture the lotus as a universal symbol, the primary theme being one of rebirth and purity. She drew the symbolism from Buddhist and Hindu traditions --the symbol of the fully-opened pink lotus, which is considered to be the true lotus of the Buddha.
In the legend that accompanies Karen’s work of art, she says that the pink pearly shells used for the petals of the plant strengthen intuition, sensitivity, and imagination, adding that they also attract prosperity and wealth. The amber which she used for the flower’s stamen is believed to be a healing stone and brings blessings. It also helps dreams to become reality and calms those who suffer from hyperactivity and stress. An added bonus: the amber transmutes humor and joy, two qualities that should be a part of any household, especially at the dinner table!
We love the three glass pieces that hang in the dining room, especially when the morning light streams through the windows and illuminates the various glass colors and stones imbedded in the pieces of art. The green colors in this latest work of art are particularly brilliant all day.
The Lotus was a gift to my friend, Victoria Sullivan, who is a botanist and who has spent endless hours programming and designing my books of poetry for her independent press, Border Press. She writes about the lotus plant in Why Water Plants Don’t Drown, a book about water plants for which Susan Elliott of Pinyon Publishing rendered the lovely illustrations, which was published by Pinyon last year.
In this biological and ecological text, Vickie relates that the pale pink flowers of sacred lotus are the largest and most spectacular of any water plants. A “floater,” as Vickie calls floating leaf plants, the lotus is native to India and is widely cultivated. She writes: “Buried seeds of the sacred lotus found in Manchuria were able to germinate after 200 years, and seeds may survive hundreds or even a thousand years.” Karen loved Susan’s colorful interpretations of the plants in Why Water Plants Don’t Drown and was inspired to render several botanical glass representations after reading this book about aquatic and wetland plants.
Karen says that in the Christian religion, the waterlily, a variant of the lotus, was presented to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation. It also represents enlightenment and is associated with the consciousness of those people who have reached Nirvana. Most of her glass pieces contain stones, gems, and colored glass that represent spiritual values—creation and regeneration are recurring themes. She encases the written explanations for the art work in a transparent sleeve that accompanies each piece she completes.

In the fall when we return to New Iberia, we hope to make our annual pilgrimage to Churchpoint to view Karen’s latest work and to visit with her and her husband, Darrell Bourque, former poet laureate of Louisiana. Darrell’s latest book, Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie is currently making a big splash in Teche country. Salut to all of these talented artists and writers!
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